Tag Archives: Madison

US Constitution: Understanding the Main Body

The Maverick Podcast #61: The Constitution Special w/ The Amendment Avenger

If you’re looking for expert analysis on what really happened before the document was ratified and what each article really means, you’ve come to the right place.

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Host Benjamin Knight and frequent guest The Amendment Avenger present: The Constitution Special – a lesson on the main body of the Constitution and American history leading up to that point.

Listen for the following:

-The Three-Fifths Compromise myth.

-The truth about gun rights.

-A backstory on our Founding Fathers.

-What the executive branch can/cannot do, a full breakdown.

-The purpose of the separation of powers.

-The Philadelphia Convention.

-Why Anti-Federalists were really federalists.

-Misinformation being perpetuated by high schools and universities across the country debunked.

And more!

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Study Guide Presentation to follow along with podcast:

Amendment Avenger Constitution PDF

Amendment Avenger Constitution PPTX


THE LESSON

Link to Uninterrupted Podcast:

The Maverick Podcast #61: The Constitution Special w/ The Amendment Avenger

OR

A Breakdown of the Lesson:

Prelude to the Constitution

Federalists and Anti-Federalists

Structural Overview

PREAMBLE

Legislative Powers

Forbidden Powers

Executive Powers

Judicial Powers

The Republic and Beyond


Source Document: The Constitution of the United States

Constitution of the United States

National Archives: Charters of Freedom


Works of Advocacy and Opposition:

Federalist Papers

Anti-Federalist Papers


CONGRATULATIONS!

After Reading the Main Body of the Source Document, Using the Study Guide, and reviewing Federalist & Anti-Federalist Papers

YOU ARE NOW KNOW MORE ABOUT THE CONSTITUTION THAN MOST AMERICANS!

Be sure to investigate the State Ratification Conventions

STAND BY FOR: UNDERSTANDING THE BILL OF RIGHTS

 

 

Madison’s Challenge: “Systemic Vices” and the New Constitution

James Madison, by John Vanderlyn

James Madison, by John Vanderlyn (1816)

During the “Critical Period” following the birth of these United States after Revolutionary War, the Articles of Confederation were failing on multiple levels. America was falling apart and something had to be done quickly.

James Madison recognized the problem, did his homework, had a vision, and made a bold plan.

The principal historic events and key issues that led to the formation the American system of government are as fascinating and as spectacular as the Constitution itself.  With the foundation for a just government in America established by the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation attempted to unite the States to protect their mutual interests in commerce and defense. The weaknesses in the new system consequences of subsequent events highlighted the need for strengthening and amending the Articles.  Widely known as the “Architect of the Constitution”, the very capable James Madison was an instrumental force for handling this monumental task. As a scholarly master of public affairs, he organized a convention of delegates together at Philadelphia. He came prepared. As seemingly polished as the much celebrated final document is in outward appearance, which can be attributed in part to Madison’s well thought-out and articulated points, it was also the product of some truly remarkable fireworks in heated debates at the convention that directly reflected the tumultuous events of the “Critical Period”, and ultimately a testament to Madison’s leadership alongside the coordinated responses of an outstanding galaxy of brilliant men who conceived this new republic in the age of monarchies.

Drafted primarily by John Dickinson in 1776, and formally ratified in 1781 by all the States, The Articles of Confederation were principally a “league of friendship” between thirteen sovereign and independent states. The Articles featured a unicameral legislature, no executive or judicial branch, and a loose confederation of independent States, (More Perfect Union: Creation).  Each state was authorized two to seven representatives but only had only one vote The Congress could not tax the people directly or regulate trade. The Congress had to make formal requests to the states to raise troops or fund the treasury. Furthermore, Congress could appropriate and borrow money and handle foreign relations, but those powers were limited

As a consequence, James Madison saw the Articles as woefully inadequate because the United States could not tax directly, was impotent in setting or regulating commercial policy or settle disputes between the states. Additionally, there was no effective way to support a war effort. On the brink of economic disaster due to states printing and inflating their money supply, businesses were in a state of depression and farmers were losing their lands. The farmers in Massachusetts were in revolt and the state government had to put it down. Known as Shays’s Rebellion, the 1787 revolt exacerbated fears that anarchy was around the corner.  The delegate from Virginia, James Madison, had a rescue plan. (More Perfect Union: Creation).

This plan would not only amend the Articles of Confederation, it would amend them entirely out of existence (More Perfect Union: America). Later, in Madison’s tenth essay, he would explain his reasons. Article III contained a “general welfare” clause (Articles). Providing for the common defense and supporting the general welfare as enumerated in the Articles of Confederation, as justification for the departure and the establishment of a new constitution (Rossiter 259-260) and eventually the phrases were lifted directly from the Articles of Confederation and transplanted to the Constitution (Constitution).

The first step was already in progress and had taken place in 1785 as a meeting at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate between delegates of Maryland and Virginia to foster alliances and commercial relations in spite of the Articles (McClanahan 143). The next year, when all the states were invited to a conference in Annapolis, Maryland, Madison and Hamilton made plans for a Philadelphia Convention. (144). Madison embarked on a scholarly research project that would run through 1787. Knowing of Madison’s prior accomplishments and service in Congress from 1780-1783, Georgia’s William Pierce added, “The affairs of the States, he perhaps, has the most correct knowledge of, of any man in the Union” (Gutzman 49).

James Madison’s deep research into the history of successful and failed federations added a whole new dimension to the debates which would manifest through some of his most profound writings and speeches. Together with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, Madison contributed to a series of letters totaling eighty five, published in New York newspapers under the pseudonym Publius, known as the Federalist (Morris 13-15). These Federalist Papers shared a national vision and were lauded by Thomas Jefferson as an outstanding work of advocacy as, “the best commentary on the principles of government which was ever written” (19).

Continuing on the subject of Hamilton’s Letter known as Federalist # 15, titled “Insufficiency of the Present Confederacy to Preserve the Union” (Rossiter 100), Madison expounds on the same subject by citing Demosthenes account of the failures in ancient Greece of the Amphictyonic Council (118) as the center of power in the federation shifted from Athens for seventy-three years, to the Lacedaemonians for twenty-nine years, and ultimately to the Thebans after Battle of Leuctra (119). After war with Xerxes, the inefficiency of the union surfaced with the jealousy and ambition as the members grew more powerful while the less powerful members became more dependent and degraded (119). Athens and Sparta were inflated from victories and became rivals and bitter enemies and inflicted upon each other greater damage than they suffered under the Persians. Peloponnesian War resulted in ruin and slavery to the Athenians who had launched the war (120).

Madison laid out systematically what went wrong in Greece, noting that, historically, when governments are weak at home and have many dissensions, they are quick to foment external crises. Such was the case as strife between the Amphictyonic Council, aligned with the Thebans, brought charges against the Phocians who were aided by Athens and Sparta. When the Amphictyons invited Phillip of Macedonia to come to their aid, he quickly capitalized on the situation, which he secretly influenced from the beginning, to dominate and subjugate all parties involved. Indeed, inciting domestic insurrection was listed in the grievances against England, in the Declaration of Independence, as an effective tool for despotism (Declaration). Disharmony from the very onset, exacerbated by a divide-and-conquer strategy from a foreign infiltrator, in Madison’s view, prevented them from withstanding Macedonia and the imposition of the Romans and their vicissitudes (Rossiter 120).

Having much praise for the Achean League of Grecian republics for retaining their municipalities and equality, their ability to send ministers and ambassadors abroad, make treaties, alliances and war through their senate, and the establishment of praetors to command the armies and enforce the uniform laws, Madison lamented the inclusion of Lacedaemon to the league. Unwilling to bring their existing laws into conformity with the union they were joining allowed for the Macedonian arts of disruption to enter and destroy their entire Union (121).

Upon Arrival in Philadelphia, Madison outlined twelve “Vices of the Political System of the United States” (Gutzman 50-52). The vices were classified into two groups, addressing deficiencies of the state governments and the federal system itself. In his first four vices, Madison elaborated on the state issues, charging that they constantly failed to comply with Congress’s requisitions , frequently encroached upon the federal authority, performed “Violations of the Laws of nations and of treaties”, and committed infractions on each other’s rights.  In vice number five, the absence of interstate cooperation was highlighted and a lack of federal guarantee against anti-republican revolution in the states was expounded upon in his sixth (Gutzman 50-52).

The seventh, which was structural in nature, stated, a “want of sanction to the laws and coercion in the Government of the Confederation”. Madison argued that the Articles were not really a constitution without coercion when dealing with the issue of state non-compliance. Furthermore, his strong advocacy for popular ratification was reflected by the “want of ratification by the people of the Articles of Confederation” as listed in his eight vice. The ninth and tenth dealt with the “mutability” of an overwhelming influx in the number of state laws, making it difficult to impossible for citizens of other states and even residents to keep up, adversely impacting the economies of the individual states (53).

The eleventh vice was an entire essay dedicated to the “injustice of the Laws of the States”.  Madison laid out his theory concerning why bad men are elected to office and surmises the pool of candidates in smaller spheres may be found wanting.  Three motives for political aspiration in three categories, ambition, personal interest, and the public good, are presented.   As an argument against mob rule in a republic, he stated that the people acting unjustly is more damaging to a republic than legislative misconduct (53). Continuing Hamilton’s argument for a Union as a safeguard against domestic faction and insurrection as outlined in Federalist # 9, Madison writes about the differences between democracies and republics in Federalist # 10, claiming that a republican “extension of the sphere” is the best cure for the ailments of the confederacy and protects minorities from the greed and passion of the majority because factions are unavoidable and means should be taken to minimize their effects (Rossiter 77-79).

In his final “Vices” expressed the desirability of an electoral process that would promote the most capable people to obtain office as they were honorably impelled to public service for the public good.

In a letter to George Washington, an outspoken critic of the Articles of Confederation, James Madison worked very hard to lay out the Virginia Plan and persuade Washington to come to the Philadelphia Convention (Ketchum 31). Madison also coached Edmund Randolph prior to the event and prompted to submit the Virginia Plan which was drafted mostly with his vision, before others could submit their plans on the floor.  Originally sold as to be “corrected and enlarged”, this bold plan shocked Randolph, as it was set not only to be a departure from the Articles, but to scrap them entirely (Morris 219).  The Virginia Plan featured a national Executive to enforce the laws with veto powers to be chosen by congress and serve seven years, a judicial branch with a system of federal courts, and popular vote for representatives (224).

The Virginia Plan drew fierce opposition from Roger Sherman of Connecticut and Elbridge Gerry took an anti-democratic position warned that republicans should remember “the dangers of a leveling spirit” bringing the issue of classes into the debate (224) while George Mason warned of working to avoid too much democracy would go too far in the other direction (224). James Wilson wanted to “raise the federal pyramid as high as possible” which would require a widest possible base. John Dickenson argued that the states would be devoured by the national government. Fierce debate over the selection process for senators ensued. Dickenson won (227) Senators to be chosen by state legislators. Opposition by William Paterson of New Jersey claiming “We have no power to go beyond the federal scheme” as outlined in the Articles of Confederation (Morris 228).

During the Conference, a rule of absolute secrecy was in effect which Jefferson confessed to Adams as being “abominable” in his opinion. Madison revealed, “no Constitution would ever had been adopted by the convention had the debates been public” (Morris 221-222).

The convention was not smooth sailing for Madison. He spoke almost every day during the Convention to defend practically every alteration or correction to his original plan and often found himself at odds with the more conservative elements in the Convention. Outright fierce opposition to the Constitution as a whole was in full-swing by members such as George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia and Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, who declared their intention not to sign the document. Mason declared the Vice-Presidency as an infringement to the Senate and the Executive as downright dangerous (Ketchum 171). His notes were not published until after his death, notes which he confessed in life to their meticulous undertaking almost killing him (Morris 210). Madison wrights of his research project:

The curiosity I had felt during my researches into the History of the most distinguished Confederacies, particularly those of antiquity, and the deficiency I found in the means of satisfying it more especially in what related to the process, the principles, the reasons, & the anticipations, which prevailed in the formation of them, determined me to preserve as far as I could an exact account of what might pass in the Convention whilst executing its trust, with the magnitude of which I was duly impressed, as I was with the gratification promised to future curiosity by an authentic exhibition of the objects, the opinions & the reasoning’s from which the new System of Govt was to receive its peculiar structure & organization. Nor was I unaware of the value of such a contribution to the fund of of materials for the History of a Constitution on which would be staked the happiness of a people great even in its infancy, and possibly the cause of Liberty through the world. (Madison)

In spite of heated debates on Representation, Executive Power, Executive Salaries, electing Representatives and Senators, veto of state laws, the nature of federalism, judiciary, separation of powers, State equality in the Senate, majority rule and basic republican principles, lengths of terms for senators, citizenship, immigration, appointment of judges, the practice of slavery, qualifications for suffrage, the New Jersey Plan, and Hamilton’s National Plan, James Madison’s Virginia plan endured with some important changes (McClanahan 145).

In the end Mr. Madison was overruled for many of his arguments, however, he was successful in getting a simple majority vote for the regulation of interstate commerce through a successful argument. Slavery concessions were made. More often than not Madison was disappointed at the direction of the Convention and in many respects he was forced to openly support a document he had not envisioned in the beginning of the conference. History shows that Madison would convert and become a leader within the Anti-Federalists. To his continued credit, he did keep his word and work to install a Bill of Rights into the Constitution after it was ratified.

Additionally, by personally and repeatedly calling on prominent figures like George Washington to preside over the Convention , Madison demonstrated keen political insight while giving credit to all that were present for the contents of the end product. Thanks to his vision and tireless efforts, persistence through planning, coordination with like-minded individuals to publish numerous essays, conducting extensive research, coaching key delegates, and enduring the firestorm of harsh criticism and debate until the end, James Madison will be seen as a public benefactor for Americans throughout the ages as an essential Founding Father and the true “Architect of the Constitution”.


Works Cited

A More Perfect Union: The Creation of the US Constitution. National Archives and Records Administration. Web. 28 Jan. 2014.

A More Perfect Union: America Becomes a Nation. Dir. Peter M. Johnson. Perf. Craig Wasson, Michael Mcquire, and Fredd Wayne. .Bridgestone Media Group,1989. DVD.

The Articles of Confederation: A Transcription. National Archives and Records Administration. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Anti-Federalist Papers: and the Constitutional Convention Debates. Ed. Ralph Ketcham. Signet Classic, 2003. Print.

The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription. National Archives and Records Administration. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

The Declaration of Independence for the United States of America: A Transcription. National Archives and Records Administration. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Federalist Papers. Ed. Clinton Rossiter. Signet Classic, 2003. Print.

Gutzman, Kevin R C. James Madison and the Making of America. New York: St Martin’s Press, 2012. Print.

Madison, James. “Preface to Debates in the Convention” Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention: Teachingamericanhistory.org. Ashbrook Center, 2006. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.

McClanahan, Brion. Politically Incorrect Guide to The Founding Fathers. New York: Perseus Distribution, 2009. Print.

Morris, Richard B. Witnesses at the Creation: Hamilton, Madison, Jay and the Constitution. Ontario: Penguin, 1985. Print.

 

Rethinking Judicial Activism & Judicial Review

American history and politics were built upon liberty, not security or obedience to authority. The Supreme Court, an unbounded, unaccountable body, has been operating outside their constitutional confines for too long.

SCOTUSCriminals usually have victims. When a person commits a murder, rape, or theft, it is because they have predetermined that their compelling interests trumps your rights to life, liberty, and property. A crime is committed. When the Supreme Court (part of the government) decides that a “compelling government interest” trumps your rights (the establishment of which preexisted the government), they have committed a criminal act, even when it’s in the name of safety or the greater good.

Challenging this in academic or political circles is difficult and usually receives the astounding equivalency to “I went to school, MAN.” Thus far, I’ve had two PhD professors (A lawyer and a political scientist) tell me to my face that it doesn’t matter if it’s not in the Constitution. Essentially arguing, or assuming, they have the power because they said so. Without an understanding of the letter or the spirit, they totally disregard Article I, Sec 8, Clause 18 and the Tenth Amendment, just like the Supreme Court.

Judicial Activism, or judges legislating from the bench, was listed as a grievance in the Declaration of Independence four times more often than no taxation without representation. When a court opinion becomes ruling and overturns a law or the final word, the Justices, who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution, become lords and masters over it. ThisSCOTUS 3 is not balance. In this Constitutional Republic, Judicial Review is Lawlessness.

“Marbury v. Madison! Marbury v. Madison! That establishes Judicial Review, the Supreme Court said so.” That has been the cry of academic scholars, lawyers, professors, and historians since 1803. The entire system we currently have is based on a colossal fraud.

When John Adams, a Federalist, lost his second term in office to Thomas Jefferson in 1800 because of public outrage for signing the egregious edicts known as the Alien and Sedition Acts, he decided to stick it to Jefferson and his Democratic Republicans one last time. After the results were out, in what some would consider to be a jerk move, Adams appointed “Midnight Judges,” forty two Federalists to the bench as a hedge of protection to defend future Federalist Party legislation. When Jefferson moved into the White House with his Secretary of State Madison, they found 17 undelivered letters of appointment called “Writ of Mandamus” and pretended they never saw them.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall

When Marbury sued Secretary Madison for his appointment, the man who should have delivered the letter in the first place, former Secretary of State for John Adams, John Marshall himself, was now presiding over this case. And the rest is history.

The courts have a legitimate purpose to establish the intent of the existing law as a provision for proper enforcement, to settle disputes between the states, and to enforce contracts. To throw off such laws to advance political agendas of or simply because they do not agree puts the power to overthrow the entire system into the hands of an un-elected majority of five. This is known as Judicial Activism or judges legislating from the bench.

Proponents to judicial activism or judicial review equate it to the concepts of “checks and balances” and “separate but equal.” Yes, checks and balances were built into the Constitution; however, the phrase “separate but equal” refers to the status of nationhood relative to other powers of the Earth as specified in the Declaration of Independence, not the US Constitution.

The three branches of government were not only listed in the Supreme Law of the Land in their order of importance, they were also listed from the most powerful to the least. The Legislative is given eighteen specific enumerated powers, the Executive has eleven, and the Judicial has seven.  For 150 years the Supreme Court assembled in the Old Senate Chambers at the Capitol Building. The Supreme Court Building was not even built until 1935 during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency. If the founders had intended for them to have a building, they would have given them one.

SCOTUS 4The history of the Supreme Court has been one of a twisted, tortured, and mangled legacy of inverse decisions based on the “contemporary community standards” of the day. Compelling interests, opinions, and contemporary community standards are not law.

Appointed judges are confirmed by a process that many US Senators call “political theater.” Who holds the US Supreme Court Justices accountable, especially when they get it wrong? Who is supposed to hold them accountable? Contrary to popular belief, Justices are not appointed for life. Article III of the US Constitution says they are appointed for “good behavior.” Congress has the power to impeach, and they have. In the early years, judges have been removed from the bench for adultery, profanity, and public intoxication. It is unlikely they will ever be removed again for these reasons.

Bad behavior is not limited to power grabs and personal misconduct. What if they refer to foreign laws in their decisions and abdicate their powers of jurisdiction and declare the World Court, FISA Courts, and Vaccination Courts, and are superior? What kind of behavior is that?

We all have court opinions that we’ve disagreed with and those that we have agreed with. Regardless of where we stand on the issues, how we do things is just as important as why we do them. Judicial Review is Lawlessness, whether we like the results or not. A push-back is long overdue.

Although calling your congressman and telling them to begin impeachment proceedings when justices go off the deep to get them removed won’t likely yield immediate results, or any, it’s a move in the right direction. If they ignore you, fire them. It’s time to light the fire under your representatives and make them obey. It’s time to rein in this ridiculous unconstitutional joke that act as if they have no firm grip on the fundamentals, the out of control and often criminal activities of the US Supreme Court.

 

“A REPUBLIC madam, if you can keep it.”

Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Siffred Duplessis (1798)

Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Siffred Duplessis (1798)

“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!” Benjamin Franklin

These United States of America are a Republic. They have never been, nor did the founders ever ratify a Democracy. There are 50 State Constitutions in America and one Federal Constitution. Neither the Declaration of Independence, nor any of these 51 documents contain any mention of democracy.

There is a reason for this.

The Philadelphia convention resulted in the scrapping of the Articles of Confederation for an entirely new American Constitution. When Benjamin Franklin, the internationally renown author, inventor, diplomat, and statesman was asked by a woman who asked, “Well, what have you given us?, he responded, “A Republic Madam, if you can keep it.”

As one of only six people who signed both the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the US Constitution (1787), Franklin would know. He stands alone as the only person to sign all of the “Big Four” documents that created America and established it as a sovereign and Independent power. These documents also include the Treaty of Alliance, Amity, and Commerce with France (1778),  and the Definitive Treaty of Peace between England, France, and the United States (1783) also known as the “Treaty of Paris.”

Article IV Section 4 of the Constitution states: The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature can not be convened), against domestic Violence

Republic (Res =the thing/ Publica = the public): the public thing or the rule of law. (Latin)

Democracy (Demos = people/ Kratien = to rule): or rule of the people. (Greek)

Ben Franklin said “if you can keep it.” Why the Warning?

Founding Presidents quotes concerning Democracy

Federalist Party leader John Adams and Republican Party leader Thomas Jefferson were often bitter political adversaries on most issues. not when it comes to the concept of democracy. James Madison, who later became an Anti-federalist leader also expressed his views. All were once President of the United States.

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800

Thomas Jefferson by Rembrandt Peale, 1800

 

“A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.” Thomas Jefferson

 

 

John Adams by Gilbert Stuart, 1800

John Adams by Gilbert Stuart, 1800

“Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” John Adams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUeOCjcgVsE

John Adams “A Republic of laws”

 

James Madison by John Vanderlyn, 1816

James Madison by John Vanderlyn, 1816

“Hence it is that democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and in general have been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths… A republic, by which I mean a government in which a scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”    James Madison, Federalist Papers No. 10 (1787)


 True Representation vs  Manufactured Consent

Edward Bernays, Public Relations Museum, npr.org

Edward Bernays, Public Relations Museum, npr.org

Edward Bernays, the nephew of Sigmund Freud, was an expert in applied psychological warfare. Considered to be the Father of Spin, Advertising, and Modern Propaganda (Public Relations), he served as the inspiration for totalitarian regimes through the 20th-21st centuries. In his 1928 book Propaganda, he unabashedly lauded the virtues of mass manipulation, revealing the dangers that occur when the goal of transforming a representative republic into a democracy is fully realized:

Amazon.com

Amazon.com

 “THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
      We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized”.

The efforts to transform our Republic into a Democracy the very heart of most of the problem facing America. Classic examples for manufacturing of consent are Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein being democratically elected to positions of dictatorship. if one actually believes the results are genuine.

“Making the World Safe for Democracy”

Tony Essex/Hulton Archive/Getty

Woodrow Wilson by Tony Essex (Hulton Archive/Getty)

Woodrow Wilson is a man described by Judge Andrew Napalitano as ” A great destroyer of liberty,” allowed himself to be duped into surrendering American sovereignty over to international banks and multinational corporations.  This came at the behest of his controller and “second soul,” the Rockefeller man who permanently occupied two rooms in the white house, Edward Mendel House.  Wilson gave us the World War I justification, “Making the World Safe for Democracy.” This phrase was manufactured by Bernays and sold by Wilson. Towards the end of his life, he apologized to the people for allowing banks to hijack our monetary and political system.

Yes, there are underpinnings of democracy that work in the Congress, sometimes

The United States Constitution

The United States Constitution

Some democratic principles are infused into our republican system of government for internal operations in the Legislative branch. During a vote for a candidate or regular legislative process, the requirement of more than 50% works. There are many cases where it does not work, inside or outside government. A lynch mob is a majority; the only dissenting vote is at the end of a rope. In our republic, no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law and a fair trial. Even then, it must be a unanimous, a 100% jury decision of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Senate ratifications of treaties and proposals  constitution convention require a 2/3 vote and ratification of new amendments must be a 3/4 vote. This is the rule of law, not majority rule.

Democracy in the form of a popular vote works in a limited fashion, for example:  Choosing members of the House of Representatives. This is good news for all citizens because the people have a direct voice in in Congress, especially the big states because they get more representatives. To balance the this and prevent presidential candidates from only appealing to a few select densely populated urban areas, the electoral college was put in place. Good news for the small states in the Executive arena. The Senate is another story.

Disaster for Democracy in the Senate

Seal of the US Senate

Seal of the US Senate

For over 120 years, US Senators were originally creatures of the state that were appointed by the state legislators in a vote from among the state representatives at the state capitol. It worked fine. That is what made them different from Representatives in the House. The Senate has 2 votes per state, good news for small states because they have an equal say, unlike the House where larger states have more power. If people didn’t like how House Representatives were performing, they would only have to wait two years to kick them out of office at the ballot box.

The Senate was different. Although senators were appointed for six years and had greater constitutional power in select areas, the accountability was swifter. If enough people didn’t like what their US Senator was doing, they would complain to their state capitol and have them recalled and replaced. By changing US Senators to a popular vote, The 17th  Amendment completely redefined a Senator as a glorified representative and eviscerated the state legislatures power to protect their interests and to affect policy at the federal level. Now senators disappear into the land of corporate lobbyists in Washington DC, never to be heard from again, and there is nothing that can be done about it for six years. If they behave badly, most of their constituents will not remember in six years and they will usually be re-elected.

Putting Legislative issues on the ballot

The US Senate 1880, Senate.gov

The US Senate Chamber in 1880, Senate.gov

Many states transform legislative issues into constitutional issues in the name of democracy. State referendums on ballots that propose amendments to state constitutions are usually a way for legislators to pass the buck to novice populations who don’t understand all the facets of the law. This absolves themselves of responsibility for the consequences of bad laws while saying it’s what the people want. If the people are to make legislation through direct democracy, then why do they need expert legislators or leaders for?


 Republic vs Democracy/  Individualism vs collectivism

Just as Federalists were actually nationalists and the Anti-Federalists were actually federalists in the early days of our America, today, the concepts of republicanism and democracy actually have very little to do with the Republican and Democrat political parties. Both parties, believing that their ideas are so good they make us comply through force of arms through taxation or manufactured consent through fraud and manipulation.  They are mostly authoritarians posing as liberals and conservatives or collectivists posing as individualists.

“It’s all for the greater good” A dangerous phrase: Collectivists believe in served by sacrificing individuals for the good of the whole. Individualists believe in protecting all individuals for the good of the whole. Democracy and Collectivism can be one in the same when it comes to morality based on mathematics. Republics and Individualists can be one in the same if they decide that murder will always be against the law, no matter how many people support it.

The source of the modern day confusion

Lexicon specialists can hardly be expected to be political scientists. The modern day dictionary definitions of republic and democracy are so close, they can hardly be distinguished. The words have been used interchangeably for so long, most people believe they are the same. Even the Democrats and the Republicans, which differ from democrats and republicans, no longer read their party charters at their national conventions.  The affinity for Greek culture and its ancient democracy makes it a romanticized  word. Many smart and powerful people have used republic and democracy interchangeably in their dialog and writings, some well intentioned, others not.

What about other republics like Rome, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) ? Are we equal to them?

China's Chairman Mao Zedong  APF/Getty

China’s Chairman Mao Zedong, APF/Getty Images

Being a Republic based on the rule of law does exempt us from total disaster or mean the laws are good and the rights of the people are respected.

Just as the democracy of a lynch mob may have no respect for the rights of the individual because of the tyranny of the majority, republics based on bad laws can also be brutal totalitarian regimes run by oligarchies exercising the tyranny of the minority over the majority.

Joseph Stalin, Getty Images/ telegraph.co.uk

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Getty Images

The Communist Party in Russia ruled for 70 years with an iron fist when they only constituted 3% of the population.  Banana Republics that descend into anarchy usually move from anarchy to tyranny in a flash because the people with the biggest guns and the hardest fists take power.

 

The Colosseum in Rome, AA 1999

The Colosseum in Rome, AA 1999

Historically, many countries that start out as republics degenerate as they expand into empires while simultaneously imploding within from popular ratification of the transfer and redistribution of public assets to ever increasing foreign populations (“Barbarians”) in the name of democracy. Combined with their lust for an unsustainable empire, this led to their inevitable collapse.

If the Stalinist Republic of Russia killed 61.1 million of their own people and Mao -Zedong’s China killed 78.8 million of their own, what makes our Republic different?

The Source and Nature of Rights and Laws makes all the difference.

The Declaration of Independence acknowledges God four times and establishes the foundation of good government and discussing the laws of nature and nature’s God, adding that Rights are endowed by our Creator.  Article VII of The Constitution of the United States recognizes the Lord. Title 4, Section 4 of the US Code of Federal Regulations , updated in 2002, shows that the US Congress official finding that this nation is established on Christian principles under God.

Their source determines their nature. If we lose our way, we lose our republic.

Prayer at Valley Forge, Arnold Friberg 1999

“Prayer at Valley Forge” by Arnold Friberg 1999